MELBOURNE premiership player Angus Brayshaw says the prospect of playing a grand final at the MCG is added motivation as it strives for back-to-back flags.
The hardnut midfielder put in a match-defining performance to help the success-starved club break a 57-year VFL-AFL drought in September in front of a capacity crowd at Perth's Optus Stadium.
The match was moved to Western Australia due to COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria, denying long-time Demon fans a chance watch history unfold at the game's traditional grand final venue.
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Brayshaw, holidaying in Port Fairy, told The Standard the club was determined to build on its breakout season and deliver more silverware.
"We love the expectation and it's a privilege to have that pressure put on you as a footballer and we're embracing it and ready to go," he said ahead of the 2022 season.
"It is motivating us a bit too, knowing so many of our supporters didn't get to see us."
Brayshaw, who had 25 disposals and kicked a goal in the 74-point win over Western Bulldogs, said the ability to impact other's lives was just as satisfying as achieving a personal goal.
"I am only 25 and it was 57 years (between flags) so it's hard for me to really appreciate what these old-timers and dyed-in-the-wool Melbourne supporters have been through waiting that long," he reflected.
"I haven't even lived half that length. The outpouring of support and positivity from our fans when we got back (to Victoria) in particular has been absolutely incredible.
"To have a positive impact on a complete stranger's life is something really special about football and something that brings me a lot of joy."
Melbourne has endured its share of on-and-off-field drama and heartache since legendary coach Norm Smith led it to the 1964 premiership.
Brayshaw said ending the drought - then the league's longest - was only the beginning with the Simon Goodwin-coached Demons determined to build a dynasty.
"The way we came back and presented for the time-trials and presented day one of pre-season, I think all that premiership hangover stuff - and everyone is aware that's a thing - we've taken the first step to overcoming that," he said.
"Everyone is in great shape and training at a high standard. The off-season program we've all nailed that and the next step is the Christmas break, getting that in and spending time and with family and friends but not losing all the hard work."
Building on his most consistent season is Brayshaw's goal.
The former number three draft pick played all 25 matches in 2021, taking his career tally to 119.
"Looking back over my journey there was the concussion stuff and I nearly gave the game up," Brayshaw said.
"I got drafted to Melbourne who at the time were no good and then we got into a prelim and then were no good again.
"I have had so many challenges and obstacles to overcome."
Ensuring Melbourne remains a force is Brayshaw's aim but he would love younger brother Andrew - one of Fremantle's emerging midfielders - to taste premiership success too.
"I think specifically about Andrew, he's seen my journey as well from relatively close to the bottom to winning the flag and I think that's really motivated him, so he's going to work harder than ever to try and replicate that success out west," he said.
"I wouldn't bet against him in the long term."
Brayshaw said Andrew was committed to the Dockers after they used pick two on him in 2017.
"He is the youngest of my brothers and the way he had to scrap and work for everything he got growing up translates very strongly to his football career," he said.
"He is going to get every ounce of his talent out of himself and he sets a really good example for everyone else.
"People see how hard he works, how respectful and kind he is and they are drawn to him.
"I think he's great for the football club and he's not going anywhere.
"As much as I've tried to get him back to Melbourne, he is very happy at Freo and loyal to that club for drafting him. He'll be there for the next 10 to 15 years."
The Brayshaw brothers will spend Christmas apart due to Western Australia's strict border rules.
The older is in Port Fairy - one of the family's long-time holiday destinations.
He arrived in the seaside town on Saturday and will return to Melbourne on Boxing Day.
"For as long I can remember Uncle James (Brayshaw) has always had a house in Port Fairy and we love coming down," he said.
"I am one of four boys and James has four sons himself so the eight of us would go surfing all day and run amok.
"It's a beautiful part of the world and I still love coming down here every year just about."
The Port Fairy golf course has tested his skillset. Brayshaw, who has slashed his handicap from 15 to eight this year, said the links were a golfer's paradise.
"I am not the greatest golfer so when it gets a bit windy I am at the mercy of the golf course but it is the most beautiful golf course," he said.
"I have played golf at a lot of different courses and can't remember a more breathtaking course and it's in great nick at the moment as well."
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